One thing season-long fantasy players, DFSers, and survivor pool enthusiasts who managed to survive September should be able to agree upon: even if Kirk Cousins does not inspire, the Browns sure do.
Washington has not enjoyed a great start to its attempt at repeating as NFC East champions, but they have a great matchup Sunday. And Cousins’ DFS prices don’t exactly reflect the kind of opportunity he has.
The Redskins are hosting a Browns team that is coming off a top-notch effort only to have seen said pursuit combust in Cleveland fashion. Washington also is fresh off its best offensive game against a better defense than what will visit Landover, Md., Sunday.
Cousins has also not been as bad of a fantasy quarterback as you think, and he needs to be considered for your quarterback spot in both FanDuel- or DraftKings-hosted contests.
The former ranks Washington’s franchise-tagged passer tied for 11th in quarterback prices ($7,600, for a $60K budget) — $1,700 in fake capital behind Cam Newton. Cousins costs the same amount of pretend money as Jimmy Garoppolo, who is likely not full strength, and Tyrod Taylor, who is set for a road tilt against the Patriots’ stellar defense that muzzled Brock Osweiler. Cousins also is cheaper than Matt Ryan, who will be playing a far superior Panthers defense.
On DraftKings, the Redskins’ quarterback is priced more appropriately ($6,500, $50K budget) — as this week’s ninth-highest-slotted passer. This does not make Cousins, who is actually DraftKings’ No. 8 quarterback through three weeks. The site awards three points for 300-yard passing games, so he’s not a bad play here at all, either. Last week, his best yet this season, was actually the only time Cousins (296 yards against the Giants) hasn’t surpassed 325 yards this season.
Again, the Browns are coming off an overtime loss and will still be playing third-stringer Cody Kessler, no matter what kind of Terrelle Pryor weirdness they concoct. The Redskins are going to have opportunities, and they’ll have them against a Browns defense that’s been one of the league’s worst against the pass.
Cleveland, which will be without slot corner Tramon Williams after already cutting previous nickel man K’Waun Williams due to mysterious circumstances, has allowed 294.3 passing yards per game to Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill. Not exactly a spate of fearsome passers, Wentz’s better-than-expected start notwithstanding. The Browns rank 24th against the pass, have allowed seven touchdown passes and have yielded multiple-TD-pass games to 11 of the past 12 quarterbacks they’ve faced.
Washington’s receiving corps has improved, with Jamison Crowder appearing to be making a leap. DeSean Jackson remains dangerous, and with Rob Gronkowski still recovering from his latest injury, Jordan Reed might be the league’s most feared tight end. Cousins will have options.
His 989 passing yards (329.7 per game) rank fourth in the league, and the Browns are the flimsiest defense he’s encountered thus far.
Kessler (and Pryor?) will be facing a bad Washington pass defense as well, which could turn this into more of a shootout than survivor-pool entrants are going to be comfortable with. That adds another layer of intrigue to this matchup, but the Browns aren’t equipped with enough firepower to follow through on this to the point Cousins owners will have to worry about a lack of field time.
You’re not going to find a better week to play Cousins.
He’s priced low considering the opposition and has yet to convince skeptics 2015’s second half wasn’t a fluke. He will remain motivated to earn the customary franchise-quarterback long-term deal he did not receive this summer in a year when the likes of Osweiler, Taylor, and Sam Bradford received multi-year commitments. He won’t have many better opportunities to pad his stats than he will in Week 4.
As usual, when you go with the bargain-buy QB, stack the other positions. With Cousins at this price against the Browns, there’s not a good reason to pass on this here and overspend on a passer. And what other reason could you — assuming you live outside of the Washington, D.C., or Cleveland area — have for watching this game?
This will give a quality cause: the rare time you can get excited about Kirk Cousins.